Posts Tagged ‘books’

The Virtue of Books

June 29, 2012

I was recently approached by a firm that wanted to turn my digital books into multimedia presentations. The presenter talked about adding pictures, video and sound to my stories to ramp up the experience, just like they do in the movies. I am open to new ideas, but I didn’t have to think for long to realize this wasn’t a good one.

I am not against multimedia presentations, but studies have shown that with almost all forms of multimedia one thing is seriously diminished, or even lost: reader creativity. What, you say, you thought that writing was a representation of the writer’s creativity? It is, but if properly written, a book also stimulates the reader’s creativity in a way no other media does. Looking at pictures, watching a movie, or listening to music is a fairly passive activity. No matter how much the creators try to ramp up the action, drama, or intensity of their work, they are playing to a mostly passive audience.

Think about it. Count the number of times you’ve watched a movie or TV show and almost completely forgotten about it the next day. While listening to a song on the radio, try to remember the one that played before it. Can you? In our current world of almost constant visual and audio stimulation, we really tune much of it out. In order to stimulate their audience, audio/visual producers must ramp up the action, noise, or drama: louder, more elaborate explosions, more dramatic music, and more shouting. More, more, more to the point the story no longer matters because the audience loses focus if the gaps between the different action sequences are too long. (Think of the number of commercials you remember but can’t recall what they were selling.)

That doesn’t happen with a well-written book, because all of the action takes place in the reader’s mind. It is the writer’s job to stimulate them, but from that point on, the reader visualizes the explosions, rhythms, drama, and the characters to suit their own selves. While reading is physically passive, it stimulates the mind more than all other media combined. Why? Because rather than it being the actor’s action, or the singer’s emotions, or the photographer’s creation, the adventure becomes the reader’s story.

 If you turn printed or electronic books into multi-media extravaganzas, all of that is lost.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – The series